Read an Excerpt
By Mark Oestreicher Scott Rubin
Copyright © 2008
Mark Oestreicher and Scott Rubin
All right reserved.
Chapter One SECTION 1
ON-RAMP TO CHANGE
2. EVERYTHING'S CHANGING
There are really only two times in life when everything changes.
When you were born (awwww-we bet you were cute!), your little body and brain went through massive changes for a couple of years. Think of the difference between a newborn infant and a two-year-old. The newborn can't do anything but eat (with help), sleep, cry, and fill a diaper (with the occasional cute gurgle thrown in). But by two years old, they're miniature walking, talking, toy-wrecking wonders.
The other massive time of change? You're soaking in it. Or you're about to enter it. Or you've just gone through it.
You've probably heard this word: puberty. It's not just about sexuality and stuff. It's the word to describe a short period of time, usually during the middle school years, when your body and mind kick into high gear, changing, morphing, shifting, becoming less like a kid and more like an adult.
And it's often a bit freaky.
Your body's changing. Your brain is changing. Your emotions are changing. Your friendships are changing. Your relationship with your parents is changing. Your faith is changing.
Really, this is the reason we (Marko and Scott) totally dig working with middle schoolers. We love helping students understand all these changes and how cool it all is (or can be).
If you're feeling a bit weird these days, it's probably because of all these changes. That's why we wrote this book (to help you understand all that stuff), and we hope that's why you're reading it.
3. THIS IS GOOD-IT'S GOD'S PLAN FOR YOU
We have two promises for you: one good, one not so good.
Let's start with the not-so-good promise. We promise you that sometimes, probably a whole bunch of times (maybe even all the time), you're going to feel lousy during your middle school years. You're going to feel like the changes you're going through stink. You're going to feel like something is just off and wrong with your body. You're going to feel really frustrated with how easily you feel frustrated.
Newsflash: That's normal. In fact (here comes a big secret-ready?), we (Marko and Scott) aren't really all that smart; we can only make that promise about how lousy you're going to feel at times because every middle school student feels that way from time to time.
Here's the other promise, the good one: We promise that all this change is a good thing. Here's how we know it's good: God invented it. That's right. It's not like God stood back at the end of creation and said, "Ah, my creation is very good-except for those middle school years. I kinda messed them up."
No, God's creation is always good. And God designed this time and process of change so that you could grow to a place where you can really experience life to the fullest. See? That's God's loving motivation for all this messy change stuff.
So why is it such a pain? Well, truly deep change is usually difficult and messy. Otherwise it wouldn't be truly deep change; it would only be surface-level change.
Have you ever seen a chick come out of an egg or a butterfl y come out of a cocoon? In both cases they have to work like crazy. But if you help them, then they probably won't live. They have to go through the hard work-it's part of what makes them strong enough for the next part of their lives.
The same is true for you. The changes you're going through can be really difficult and annoying and not a lot of fun to experience. But these changes are preparing you for the rest of your life.
4. WHY IS THIS HAPPENING?
Can you picture us showing you an old-school film right now, in black and white, with some dude wearing a dorky suit and standing at a chalkboard with an outline of a boy and a girl? He'd say, in a deep voice, "Change. You're really changing a lot, aren't you? Let's take a deeper look at these changes and try to understand why all this is happening."
Uh, yeah. We don't have that movie. And you wouldn't want to watch it if we did.
But the question is a good one. Why? Why is all this happening to you?
The answer is both simple and not so simple.
The simple answer: All this change is happening to you because you're growing up. Duh!
Now for the not-so-simple answer. Really, you've been changing every minute of every day for your entire life. And you'll continue changing every minute of every day for the rest of your life. Things grow, things get stronger or saggier, thoughts and emotions develop or fade.
But what's unique about your middle school years is the massive quantity of change. If a normal amount of change for a human is like walking up a tiny little hill, then your changes are like climbing a 10,000-foot mountain. Blindfolded. Without any equipment. Or any clothes.
Okay, maybe we exaggerated a bit. But you get the idea.
We don't really know why God planned for young teenagers to have all these changes all at once (rather than a little bit at a time, over a longer period of years). But we do know that if you didn't go through all the changes we talk about in this book, then you'd have a not-so-great life as an adult. Really! If you lived as an adult with the body, mind, faith, and emotions of a little kid, then your life wouldn't be the "full life" that Jesus talks about in John 10:10:
I HAVE COME THAT THEY [I.E., YOU!] MAY HAVE LIFE, AND HAVE IT TO THE FULL.
THAT'S what this change is all about!
5. A LITTLE HISTORY
Here's something strange that you might not know: The word teenager was never used until fewer than 100 years ago. The more formal word for the teenage years-adolescence-was invented just after 1900. That might sound like a long time ago, but it's a pretty short time when you consider how long humans have been around.
In fact, hundreds of years ago there was no such thing as the teenage years. Kids were kids, and then they were considered young adults. Every culture around the world used to have these things called "rites of passage." They're ceremonies or tasks that people your age went through in order to be considered an adult.
But about 100 years ago, our culture started to change. We started to understand the importance of education beyond elementary school, and high schools started to pop up. (They weren't required until a little more than 50 to 60 years ago.) And at the same time, our culture started to create some space for teenagers to be teenagers instead of rushing them into adult responsibilities.
At first, the teenage years were viewed as a couple of years long, around the 15th or 16th year. Then, when high school became required, people started thinking of the teenage years as being from 13 to 18 years old.
With those societal changes, teenagers started creating their own culture-their own clothing styles, language and slang, music choices, and stuff like that.
There are still changes taking place in all this cultural stuff. Like, when we were in middle school, the things we were exposed to were probably a lot closer to what you experienced in fifth or sixth grade. And these days, most experts would say the teenage years are about 10 to 15 years long, from about 10 or 11 years old to the mid-20s.
So when your grandparents, or even your parents, talk about how different things are for teenagers today from when they were your age-they're right!
Excerpted from My Changes by Mark Oestreicher Scott Rubin
Copyright © 2008 by Mark Oestreicher and Scott Rubin. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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